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Ethical/Societal Dimension Topic 3: Better understanding the role of new social media networks and their use for public security purposes

Specific challenge:

The internet has become a central part of modem life. Omnipresent social media, especially media sharing platforms, chat sites, web forums, blogs radically change the way current societies operate. That is why these instruments attract more and more attention from public security planners.


This topic shall look at the role and purpose of social media and the relationship between the new social networks and public security. Research to be coordinated by this activity may focus on analysing the following issues:

  • To what extent are social media likely to influence public security planning?
  • Shall the adoption of social media across the public security community be treated as a threat or a tool for public security purposes?
  • Shall the potential of social networking tools be explored by public security agencies for example in order to predict future trends or identify possible threats?
  • To which extent, in the age of the connected society, are social media used in the eve of urban violence and riots? How can the understanding of the different social media influence on the populations lead to the shaping of new forms of policing in the public space?
  • What are the ethical and legal implications, for instance with reference to the respect for fundamental rights, of public agencies using social media information for security planning purposes?

Special attention should be paid to ethical privacy and data protection aspects.

The Commission considers that proposals requesting a contribution from the EU of between €1m and €2m would allow this specific challenge to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts.

Expected impact:

Better understanding among research organisation across Europe: of how social media can be used for public security purposes, in particular for better prediction and identification of possible future threats, and of the challenges, opportunities and risks for public security agencies of using social media. .

The action is expected to proactively target the needs and requirements of users, such as law enforcement agencies, citizens and public security planners.

Type of action: Coordination and Support Actions